WASHINGTON — House Speaker John Boehner told The Daily Caller he’s staying out of the debate over immigration’s impact on Americans, but still insisted that a major bill “needs to get done.”
The hope of Congress passing a major bill after this year “is still alive,” he told TheDC during a brief interview at Reagan National Airport, just outside Washington D.C.
But when questioned about the impact of immigrant workers and guest workers on Americans’ incomes and job prospects, Boehner said he wasn’t going to debate or shape the contents of any immigration bill.
“I try to stay out of that — all the issues,” and to instead focus on moving legislation through Congress, he said, while smoking a cigarette just outside the airport building Sept. 28.
“My job … is to move the [legislative] process along,” he said.
The immigration debate has split the GOP because lopsided majorities of GOP supporters and swing voters generally oppose the GOP business wing’s goal of more immigration and looser workplace controls.
For example, the Senate’s 2013 immigration bill as strongly supported by President Barack Obama, by progressives and Latino lobbying groups, and by the GOP’s business wing, because it would have doubled the inflow of immigrants and guest workers up to roughly four million per year.
That foreign labor supply is almost level with the 4.3 million Americans who turn 18 each year.
The bill was so disliked among voters that Boehner bottled it up — despite intense pressure from an alliance of progressives, Latino activists, the Chamber of Commerce, universities and the farm industry.
Boehner’s decision to distance himself from the political debate shows the GOP’s inability to support the public’s increasing skepticism about large-scale immigration, said one Hill aide.
“Polling against amnesty has never been starker, Obama and congressional Democrats have never been more vulnerable on the issue, and the voting public has not been madder in a very long time about our open borders,” the aide said.
But “Boehner is basically announcing weeks out from the election that his No. 1 goal is importing more cheap labor,” he complained.
GOP legislators should unite to “run against the Washington Democrats’ dream of a world without borders, not sing ‘Imagine’ with Boehner as choir leader,” the aide said.
The polls also shows that Obama’s ratings on immigration have crashed to as little as 10 percent strong support and 45 percent strong opposition, and that his base is opposed to his planned executive amnesty.
No GOP legislators are calling for greater immigration, following the June 2014 primary defeat of Boehner’s colleague, Majority Leader Eric Cantor.
In September, Obama postponed a planned executive amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants. He’s now threatening to distribute millions of residency permits and work permits to the illegals once the election is over.
On Sunday, ABC News aired an earlier interview with Boehner, where he declared that “I said the day after the 2012 election it was time to do immigration reform. I meant it then and I mean it today.”
But the House can’t pass a bill until Obama tightens up lax border security, he said.
“We had a flood of children coming across the border once again proving that no good immigration bill can pass until we have real border security. … Big things in Washington take bipartisan majorities. Issue of immigration, only way to do it, and frankly the right way to do it, is to do it in a broad bipartisan way.”
Since last October, Obama has allowed roughly 140,000 poor migrants from Central America to cross the border and apply for residency.
Obama declined to repatriate the inflow, which includes at least 65,000 so-called “unaccompanied minors” who were accompanied to U.S border agencies by paid smugglers. The border agencies accepted the children and youths, and then delivered them to their relatives living in the United States, gratis. Many of the relatives are illegal immigrants.